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against us, not be written against them, and the evil measures which they served out, be returned upon their own heads, and their cursings return into their own throats, and their prosperity perish, and all their glory and their strength be scattered like chaff before the wind? Then hath the Lord forgotten to be gracious, and his cove. nant is no longer sure ; and there is no more a Judge over all the earth, who doeth righteously. Call they this hardness of heart? that the wicked should perish. Call they this unmerciful ? that the nations which forget God, should be cast into hell. What would these soft-hearted fools ? That God should cease to be holy? That Christ should cease to be the manifestation of love and holiness in kissing communion; of mercy and justice in sweetest accordancy? that the Holy Spirit should cease from being named Holy, and True, and Comforter ? that there should be no separate people—no excheria, or elected Church ? no apostate and perishing world ? all things returned to chaos again, all things confused and intermingled?. As the Lord liveth and hath testified for what he liveth, they are ignorant, and blind, and foolish, and wicked, who pervert the minds of men with such wretched imaginings of short-sighted good-nature, of all tolerating injustice.
• To the soul of every truly spiritual man, who hath been made a partaker of the divine nature, there is nothing but the most blinded error and ill-directed spirit in that puling pity, which siglieth, and weepeth, and maketh lamentation over the poor souls whom the papal superstition doth oppress, and whom the son of infidelity doth gall unto the death ; but while it sighs, and weeps, and makes its pitiful lamentations over the captive and imprisoned souls, will lift no voice of hatred and rebuke, utier no withering curses, and bring no effectual blow against thosc evil powers which have caught the sipner in their iniquities, and by their iniquities continue to secure them in their fearful hold. If they have faith in the doctrine of Christ, and the all-prevalency of his kingdom, why do they not set the battle in array against these. his enemies, who maintain so mighty a head against him?
As I live, it is because I love the souls of men, that I hate these oppressors of the souls of men. If the life of the soul were not dear in my sight, I would not be moved with horror against those who consume souls by thousands and tens of thousands. If the Jiberty of the soul were not glorious, I would not thus be grieved by the captivity of so many millions, or rejoice that the day of their redemption draweth nigh. The Lord judge between me and those soft-hearted optimists, if I love not the souls of men better than they; and endeavour to frame my discourse according to His word, more exactly than they. But if I utter any malice to the person
of any man, or wish any wish but redemption to any man, while I bate the oppressors, and rejoice that their rod is to be so spon broken, the Lord forgive me, for I mean it not so, and do only desire to be the mouth of his holy prophets, who have prophesied since the world began, and of his Son Jesus Christ, whose testimony is the spirit of prophecy.
These apologies for that which I have set forth concerning the
last catastrophe of divine wrath, I make as to a generation of Zion's
• But besides this childish sentiment of the mind, there is another of the heart widely prevalent in the Church, (if I might call that heterogeneous mixture of worldly wisdom and divine wisdom, of human fancies and faithful doctrines, of form and expediency, by the holy name of Church,) that these judgements of the Lord upon the heathen, and upon the papal nations, are not to be spoken in charitable ears; and that the man who broacheth such doctrines, is a hard. hearted fanatic, and blinded apostle of his own maliciousness. Ye tender-hearted objectors to God's most righteous judgements, what say ye, to the holocaust of a generation at the deluge? what, to the smiting of Egypt's first-born of man and beast? what, to the root-andbranch destruction of the Canaanitish nations ? and to Saul's cutting off, because he spared any creature of Amalek which breathed the breath of life? And what say you to the five city-fulls of men, who were consumed with fire from heaven? And what say you of all the burdens of the prophets ? Nineveh had but sixty days for repentance. These nations have had almost 2000 years. Oh! but the Lord will not send such as you to do his errands! Fear not that your tender hearts will be wounded. Ye who cannot hear his messages, shall not know his works.
Now, was not Jesus of Nazareth as tender as you, who wept over Jerusalem, yet brought on it that destruction which maketh'the ear still to tingle. Weep, yea, weep; and because you pity, cry aloud like Jonah. It is a weighty commission, but flee not from it, ye who bear the name of prophets ; less the Lord overtake you in the way, or swift destruction overtake you. Ye lovers of your natural tastes, and your natural feelings, more than of the revelation of God! Ye disbelievers of his holiness and his truth! Ye intolerant indulgers of heresy, and the arch heretic! Ye disguised lovers of the mother of harlots! Fear greatly-fear I say, lest ye be overwhelmed with her. But take not on you the name of God's prophets, call yourselves no longer preachers of Christ, if ye dare not declare his fearful messages. Let others stand forth to be the videttes of the camp, the watchmen of the holy city, if ye will speak favourable words, and hold out signals of peace to the enemy. The promises shall be taken from you, and ye shall not enter into his rest, by means of unbelief. Fear, fear, lest a promise being left you of entering in, any of you should seem to fall short.'
Vol. II. pp. 231-40. We have heard it observed, that Mr. Irving has sounded a faithful alarm, but that there is a crack in his trumpet, which gives a harshness to its sounds. This was meant as no unfriendly criticism, nor do we know that we can state the case more correctly. The misfortune is, that those who stand most in need of warning, will, it is to be feared, be more struck with the dismal harshness of its notes, than arrested by their import. Mr. Irving has not the art of making himself forgotten in bis message. His very sentences are all thrown into attitudes, and his mannerism steals away the attention from his matter. For instance, when we find a speaker or a writer introducing a statement or opinion with a solemn adjuration in the very language of the Deity himself—' As I live,' or in the words of the Saviour, * Verily, verily, I say unto you,'—the revolting impropriety of the phraseology destroys all confidence in the judgement of the individual, and bars the mind against his communication. In such a case, there is nothing between implicitly submitting to the man as a Divinely commissioned
teacher, and wondering after him as a theological empiric. These remarks may be deemed severe ; we mean them to be so. But, whether Mr. Irving may rank us with the righteous or not, it is in kindness that we would smite him for such aberrations as these, which are the more severely to be deprecated, inasmuch as they are unworthy of his talents, inconsistent with bis piety, and tend greatly to diminish his usefulness.
Mr. Irving's scheme of interpretation, we do not think it necessary minutely to analyse, since it is confessedly borrowed. Partly on this account, we have suffered his volumes to remain so long unnoticed ; and partly, because it is both an ungracious and a disagreeable part of our official duty, to hold up to deserved condemnation the pernicious indiscretions of influential and pious men. The general subject of the publications before us is, however, one of the highest interest, and which we should rejoice to see competently treated ; and although we are conscious of being able to contribute but in a humble degree to clear up its difficulties, we shall avail ourselves of this occasion to suggest a few considerations, with a view to promote and to direct further inquiry.
What is the design of Prophecy? Mr. Irving states it to be twofold, according to the character of those to whom the • revelation is given-the World or the Church.'
• When the revelation is made to the princes, cities, or nations of the world, as by Balaam to the King of Moab, by Jonah to Nineveh, and by the dreams which Daniel interpreted, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; the great end in view is, to teach their wicked and rebellious hearts, that “ the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will :” and along with this lesson of God's personality and power, to teach this other lesson of his holy providence, that unless they humble their pride and repent of their wickedness, they shall feel the rod of his anger, and the fierceness of his fiery indignation. But, when the revelation is brought unto the Church, as of the flood to Noah, of the promised seed to Abraham, of the seventy weeks to Daniel in the house of his captivity, of the revelation to John in the place of his exile ; the blessed end which God hath in view is, to reward the faith of his servants, and to refresh the drooping spirit of his Church, and to assure Israel his inheritance, that however the heathen may rage, and the people imagine a vain thing against the Lord and his anointed, his faithfulness shall never depart, nor his watchfulness fail, from those who have chosen him for their trust.' Vol. I. pp. 13, 14.
To this view of the twofold end of Prophecy, we should not much object, had Mr. Irving classified the Divine predictions as consisting of threatenings and promises, instead of making the distiuction turn upon the description or class of persons to
whom they were specifically addressed. For this representation, there is no Scriptural warrant; and the examples adduced prove as much. The threatenings of God are often addressed to his Church, while the promises of his mercy are held out to the World. Thus, with regard to the revelation of the flood to Noah, or rather by Noah to that generation, it is said, that “ Noah, being warned by God," was " moved with fear to pre“ pare an ark for the saving of his house." (Heb. xi. 7.) Nor was there any thing in the awful message to reward his faith or to refresh his spirit. Again; the revelation to John in the Isle of Patmos opens with a series of predictive warnings, addressed, not to the world, but to the Church, and having for their de. sign that very end which Mr. Irving would restrict to revelations made to the princes and nations of the world. Besides which, many of the predictions which would fall under his first class, were exclusively addressed to God's chosen people.
The Author subsequently distinguishes Prophecy into two kinds : ' Discursive Prophecy, or the shewing forth of the pur
poses of God respecting the World and the Church ; and • Prophetic History, or the same purposes digested into a nar
rative of coming events, drawn up with reference to time and • place;' of which the only instances are stated to be the books of Daniel and John. Of these two kinds, we are told, the His* torical are for the wise, the Discursive for the unwise; those • for the learned, these for the unlearned of the children of God.' With this distinction, our readers will not, we imagine, be better satisfied. For, in the first place, many of the prophecies in the book of Zechariah strictly fall within the second class, according to the Author's own definition; wbereas he allows none of the books of the Old Testament to be of this kind, save the book of Daniel. Secondly, a distinction which would suppose the unequivocally explicit prophecy of the Seventy-sevens to have been addressed only to the wise and learned, and the mysterious oracles of David and Isaiah to have been intended for the unwise and the unlearned, can rest upon no solid basis or intelligible principle.
The several ends and designs of Prophetic Revelation must be ascertained by attentively considering the specific character of the various communications which, at sundry times and in divers manners, God has vouchsafed to make by his holy prophets. That they comprise both promises and threatenings, that they have a twofold aspect on those who believed and those who despised the warning or the promised blessing, is an obvious remark, but one of too general a nature to serve us in the present discussion. A more important distinction is observable between predictions of limited and temporary interest,